Managing Feed Subscriptions for Patrons

Another great question from a medical librarian:

…[H]ow do you manage multiple feeds? For example, some doc loves his feeds from his PubMed search but he wants to change it a little to make it better. How do you keep track and make sense of them all? Because my hope is to have many many doctors getting the feeds.

Some things we can do NOW

  • I’ve written previously about the idea of preconfiguring web-based aggregator accounts FOR your clinicians. When these clinicians want their feeds tweaked, they can allow you to log in to their aggregator to tweak. This is far from ideal, but workable.
  • I like the idea of generating the feed in PubMed (or EBSCO Medline- shame on Ovid Medline for not having feeds yet!) and running it through Feedburner. The benefit: Imagine that you have 5 cardiolosists subscribed to one SDI feed generated by a search you ran in PubMed. If you realize there’s a tweak you can make to your search parameters that will produce better results, you can generate a NEW feed in PubMed and apply your NEW feed to the very same Feedburner that all five cardiologists are subscribed to. That way, you make one change and all five cardiologists simultaniously reap the benefits of the improved feed with minimal administrative burden on the librarian.

    Another advantage of using Feedburner is that it allows you to keep a list of all existing feeds in one convenient location, which also aids the librarian in managing his/her feeds for patrons.

What I’d Like
What I’d really like is to have a library-branded aggregator system administered by the library. Ideally, this would be a web-based aggregator service that would allow members of our hospital community to sign up for an account and start managing their own feeds. Administrators (from the library) would be able to access accounts to make changes, tweak feeds, or solve problems for users, and could make mass changes quickly and easily.

Is this coming soon?
Yeah, I think it is. I haven’t seen a system like this yet, but I have suggested such a system to couple of software developers. While I can’t say that I know of any organizations that are currently working on just this sort of thing, I find it hard to believe that there isn’t something like this in the works at multiple organizations. I expect some smart folks have already thought of this and are working on it now. (If you’re one of those smart folks, please drop me a line and let me know?)

If you have other ideas on how to manage feeds for your library’s user, please leave a comment!

2 thoughts on “Managing Feed Subscriptions for Patrons

  1. In our academic setting we provide access to a bibliography management tool called refworks. It can handle feeds. I’m thinking how hard could it be to set up a search in Pubmed and then move the Pubmed feed to refworks. Refworks is already set up with our link resolver to automatically provide full text. Refworks already allows us to share/post to the web, literature search results. Now I can post a feed of search results? This is soooo cool! The way all of these tools are feeding off of each other is making my head spin.

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